Your company intranet can be a powerful hub for communications with targeted communication. When your intranet isn’t the main artery of information, it’s typically because your organization isn’t following best practices, usually because they don’t know what they are.
How to spot an intranet not following best practices
What does it look like when your intranet isn’t helpful? Usually, your icky intranet falls into one of these categories.
It’s become the Wild West, where people — when it comes to content management — do whatever they want. It’s not updated, not that you’d know who has access to update it. Policies and procedures that are even important to safety and security may not be updated. It’s not conforming to any content or information management schedule. You’re not even sure it has analytics attached to it, not that it would matter. Its motto is: Anything Goes.
It’s an intranet ghost town, with useless information and no collaboration. Employees avoid using it because there’s nothing there to keep people productive and engaged. They can’t access their timesheet. They can’t sign up for training. It’s not mobile-friendly, so no one can use it on-the-go or when they’re at home.
Consequences of not following best practices
These company intranet scenarios are wastes of a perfectly good communication channel. Worse, there’s real damage these ineffective intranets could be causing:
- Employees aren’t complying with standards. Those standards vary for every industry. In healthcare organizations, for example, it may look like giving the wrong dosage of medication. For manufacturing and energy, it may be not following safety procedures for equipment. Following incorrect or outdated content could cause someone to get hurt.
- Employees aren’t complying with policies that protect themselves and your organization, including hiring, termination, sexual harassment and security policies. In this case, noncompliance could cause fines and legal action.
- Employees can’t be productive, collaborate and engage when and where they want, causing them to fall short of organizational goals.
- Employees aren’t informed about the organization. They don’t know who your customers are, what products and services your company sells, what the brand means, etc.
- Resources, people and money, are taken away from other priorities and tied up in a tool without any return on investment (ROI).
These ramifications are troubling as they could cause harm to people or the company … or both. That’s why it’s so vital to keep on top of your intranet, following best practices.
Transform your company intranet
Beyond protecting people and your company, intranets can be powerful two-way communication vehicles that educate and engage a productive workforce. They can serve your workforce whenever and wherever they want to work, freeing them to increase productivity. Here are seven best practices to follow:
1. Build a coalition
More people care about the intranet than you’d think.
It goes beyond IT and Corporate Communications. The following are just a few groups that care about the intranet and why:
- HR wants to use the intranet to communicate benefits, policy changes, hiring practices, termination procedures, etc.
- Facilities needs inform employees about important changes in your organization’s buildings.
- Training and Organizational Development need to announce classes and provide material, including videos. Access to materials and classes is especially important for organizations that require certification, such as healthcare.
- Security has goals regarding employees reading security policies and taking related training.
- Information managers or records managers want to ensure they’re meeting auditing standards for retaining information and records.
- Quality managers may be ensuring that the intranet meets various standards, including ISO.
- Disaster recovery teams may want another channel, like your intranet, to communicate what to do in case of an emergency.
- Travel needs a place to communicate travel-related policies.
- Purchasing has specific approval processes.
- Industry-specific jobs need to use the intranet — from nurses who review medication details to safety personnel who review specific procedures.
- Specific project managers who need to communicate about projects important to organizational goals and strategy.
That’s just to name a few. Your organization has people from all over who are eager to communicate information and need a place to store that content. So many have a vested interest in the intranet. It makes sense to involve them.
2. Get your execs onboard
Beyond the coalition from above, the main reason to use an intranet includes educate on organizational strategy and goals — something executives care deeply about. The intranet can be a repository for that information. Some intranets can integrate with dashboard technology, such as ElevatePoint’s intranets, to display progress on goals, too. Surveys can be integrated to show whether employees understand the goals and their part in making them happen.
Also, your intranet can inform and educate leaders and managers, providing talking points to manage change and indicate when meetings are happening. Intranets can store information such as all-employee meetings, competitor analysis, brand, customer stories, employee spotlights, products and services, locations, etc. Metrics are built-in, showing communication effectiveness as well as engagement.
Don’t know how to get your executive onboard? We have ideas.
3. Enlist content authors
With everyone in your organization who cares about their own content and communicating information, the Communications team doesn’t have to own every page on the intranet. Additionally, IT shouldn’t be the ones updating information every time there’s an update either. That’s a waste of resources (people and money)!
Instead, count on the people who have the content to add information or make changes. It should be easy for people in various departments, who own the content, to go in and update it themselves, using drag-and-drop content blocks without knowing any HTML or arcane systems.
Workflows can ensure the information is not only updated, but it’s also easy-to-read, concise, and is grammatically correct.
4. Introduce intranet governance
Intranet governance ensures the intranet is kept updated. Policies, procedures, general information, third-party applications — should all have owners, schedules and more. It generally starts with a core group of content owners. Start intranet governance.
5. Make it useful
Intranets should be a place where employees can be productive, no matter where they are. Workers who are at a construction site, salespeople on-the-go, staff in the mailroom or distribution areas all should be able to get information at a moment’s notice. More than that, those who work from home should be able to work when they want to be productive. Having access to the intranet using any device — smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop — is part of that strategy.
Also, the content on the intranet should inform and engage employees. Third-party integrations (such as requests for paid-time off, employee expenses, etc.), training, etc. should all be available for employees to use when they need it. If you’re struggling for content ideas, read this blog post.
6. Make it intuitive
Go beyond navigation that’s listed by organizations. That’s hard for people to know where information is and makes company reorganizations a nightmare on your navigation. Instead, it should be easy for employees, even new hires, to understand your information architecture (IA).
Don’t know how to restructure your intranet’s navigation? Consider conducting usability tests to improve it. They can be easy to do and don’t require that many resources. In fact, you should start with your most useful pages or the pages you desperately want people to see and start there.
Also, search for most intranets is a major issue. It should be easy to find people and information quickly on any device. Some intranets, such as what ElevatePoint provides, enable you to pin search results making some pages stand out. Our search is also contextual. How does that help? For example, imagine an HR policy that’s also a company program. Some search engines are smart enough to know the difference. In fact, one government agency uses our search to determine dates, topics, and types of legal documents – refining their search so quickly they know in court, on their mobile device, what an important document says.
So many company intranets are one-way communication vehicles. But they don’t need to be. You don’t even need to add a whole new social intranet or social app just to allow people to share information and collaborate. It’s better if employees can engage with each other where they are — on a project site, in a manager portal, etc.
Yammer might be the solution, but it may not meet all your engagement needs. ElevatePoint enables you to engage across pages, where threaded discussions enable people to ask questions, answer people with a ping and share information.
Following these company intranet best practices can make a huge difference. It can turn your intranet into a bustling, lively place where people can be productive, share information and collaborate. It can also be a useful tool that’s regularly updated. When that happens, you have another communication vehicle to leverage to reach more people and enable them to meet organizational goals.